Click here to see my full list of goals for 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Despite appearances, I've been working steadily away at a number of projects.  Unfortunately, at this time of year, some of them need to be kept under wrap until they're.... well, unwrapped.  This creates a bit of blogging dilemma.

On the none-gift side of things, I've been working on a series of three poems that I will one day soon (when I work up the courage) write directly on to three of my nude sketches. I've taken my time with the poems and will probably revisit them a few more times before I set pen to paper. My strategy for writing poetry is to continue returning to a work until I can read it through without once stopping to think 'that sounds clunky' or 'that's not the right word.' With Pax Familia, I did this for months, but I'm glad I did because I still read it through and feel that I got everything to where I wanted it.

Below is a little excerpt that has survived the first read-through. Once I've completed these drawings/poems, I plan to send them off to a literary journal for consideration, so I'll likely only post glimpses until I receive a heart wrenching rejection or a rare and wonderful 'yes.'

White filaments slow and descend
Collecting in the hollows across the muted acreage

Her attention is divided
Between the twin corruptions of thievery and self-denial

As for the other projects... the posts will just have to wait for the new year.  At least I should have lots of updates in January!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Post 150!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals list tonight (especially fitting now that I've realized this is my 150th post!).  Even though the new year is still six weeks away, I have a feeling that these weeks are going to race by and I don’t want to rush the creation of my new goals list on December 31st.   Plus, T and I will be off to Paris and India for the last two weeks of December, which really leaves me with four weeks to finish up my priority projects and formalize my 2011 list.

My first thought about the 2011 list is that it should be qualitative instead of quantitative.  Trying to accomplish 100 creative things was definitely fun, but it also made me feel that I was trying to head off in too many different directions.  I started trying to knock off small goals quickly without giving much thought as to why I added them in the first place - definitely not the point.  Ultimately, the list is meant to help give me some creative focus and motivate me to work on projects even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired.  Like most things, I find that simply picking up a sketch book or sitting down at the computer to write is more than half the battle. 

So, 2011.  No more arbitrary numerical target.  Well, maybe.  I do love a good ‘top 10’ list and my mind still wants to categorize things this way.  But if I do go with a number, what should it be?  100 was too high.  25 seems to low.  50 could work, but it still doesn’t speak to any underlying focus.

Another possibility is a list organized by ‘the passions.’  Writing, drawing, printmaking, and bookmaking would be the big four.  However, pretty much everything I do involves some overlap between these categories in some way, so separating them doesn’t make much sense.

One idea I’m considering (and I’m sure this will seem completely crazy considering my less-than-regular posts) is the idea of aiming to do one creative thing every day.  This ‘thing’ would have to result in a piece of art – be it a single line of text or massive painting.  There wouldn’t be any limits on scale or scope of the creation, but it would have to have some sort of ‘thing-ness’ to it - tangible, experiential, documentable.  This idea comes out of reading a lot of blogs by artistic entrepreneurs who often follow the ‘create one thing a day’ rule to keep them motivated and developing new ideas.  I’m sure it sounds a lot easier than it is in reality (just like my 100 things list... which was originally supposed to be a 365 things list!), but it’s a great challenge.

The big difference in my mind is that the ‘create one thing a day’ goal lends itself a lot more to inspiring the process as well as the final product.  And since this blog is largely about documenting my creative processes, the whole concept seems to be a better fit.   However, I still want to create a projects list as well.  I just operate better with a ‘to do’ list.

I suppose I’ll have to think on this a little more as I’m figuring out my 2011 projects.

All suggestions welcome!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm losing my proportions!

I went to another open drawing session last night after work even though I was feeling pretty tired.  There were a ton of people there, which was great to see (kind of made up for the art store clerk responding to my observation that Curry's now carries a lot of craft stuff with 'Yeah, there's just no money in fine art anymore').  

I'm glad I went because I just love the atmosphere and the change of pace, but I wasn't really on my game.  I've posted a few of the better sketches.  I'll spare you ones where I couldn't get the proportions right and ended up rendering the lovely model as some sort of deformed, five-feet-wide monster.  Oh, Thursdays...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pax Familia - Nan

Today, I had the incredible experience of walking into a bookstore, picking up a magazine, and flipping to one of my own works.  My graphic poem 'Pax Familia' won third place in This Magazine's Great Canadian Literary Hunt - Graphic Narrative category.  Now that the November/December is on stands, I thought I would put the full poem up.  It's written three and a half times in the work itself, so it might be a little hard to decipher (something I find I'm grappling with in many of my graphic works).

I was also so glad to see Toronto artist Shannon Gerard's work Unspent Love as the big winner in the graphic category.  I've been a huge fan of Shannon's work every since I strolled by her booth at Word on the Street a few years back.  Her blog - littledogmonday - has been on my blogroll since day one.  Check out her incredible graphic works and crocheted wonders.

I hope you enjoy the straight up text version!

Pax Familia - Nan


She came through rotting stovepipes
To marriage and the guess work of a thin dairy farmer

Kitchen, a field hospital
Back kitchen, cavernous with old snowshoes and loose electrical wiring

What is a back kitchen?
                These are the things I can’t explain
                Chicken blood and heat lamps, the dangling spools of baler’s twine
                Rotting potato halves, egg cartons, feed bags, rakes
Mid-morning, stretching up to the clothesline on the back stoop
                Hand-poured cement steps


We have culled her things
Searching for the ample lures of family history

Ancient sewing tools
Combines and wagons seized by rust
The machinery of true disfigurement

Oh, her horror stories were good
                A girl with a long braid
                Caught in the quaking wheels of an auger
                Her hair ripped out in a single, choking snarl
As her brother, miraculously, held back her body
                It took two years for her hair to grow back and she was never right again

Never right?
Her words


Tell me more

                Arms ripped away, stumbling near drunk from blood-loss through the fields
                Feet caught in the stable cleaner, flesh mixing with manure
                Falls in the hay loft, legs shattering through barn board
                Blood poisoning, stillborns, strange fevers, silent cancers
And always the strange, silent threat of a single rope dangling from the rafters or a lone gun shot in the evening

She worked in a space no bigger than a modern bathroom
Making pies the church would approve of though she wouldn’t go

                The perfect, lean script of her recipes
Blotted with fifty years of small interruptions
Beet juice, condensed milk, honey, pastry flakes
All the colours and textures of an ailing body, unclothed

But I wasn’t surprised when, at eleven, I learned she’d grown up the city
Some women kneel in the earth and are still a strange royalty to the people around them


Three children with black hair
Who would all grow to hate each other
And their children, arriving steadily over seventeen years
Until the hand-me-downs were transparent

What city?

The one we’re in now

                Two family homes less than a kilometre from where I get my coffee
                The whole street a living heirloom
                And me, kneeling on the icy sidewalk, in search of her

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Birthday Post!

A few poem experiments....

The writing is from some general work I did a while ago on the theme of heredity (a favourite of mine).

I'd love to write more, but it's by birthday today and I'm off to enjoy some cake!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weirdness Abounds

I finished my hand sketch this evening so that I can move on to the text part of the 'fingerprint' project.  It's very strange to draw your own hand.  I ended up feeling like my left hand looked a little disproportioned, although the basic dimensions are pretty much right on.  Perhaps my hand is simply odd.

Feeling dissatisfied with this first sketch, I tried out a few variations.  My first experiment was something a littler looser.  

My second experiment was just... well... weird.  I was going for an more amorphous, finger-print-line feel, but messed up on a swirly line (thus necessitating the 'accent' lines in the background) and ended up with this bizarre little drawing.

The accent swirl reminds me of advice I once received from a painting instructor that if I was looking for something to fill in the negative space I could always use little triangles.  This was, and continues to be, the worst artistic advice I have ever received. Triangles!

Anyway, swirl hand drawing aside, I have two other hand drawings to work with and some fun pieces of writing to add.  I should have at least one draft posted by tomorrow.